Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan called the current strike by Hollywood writers and actors "an important moment in the industry" as he gets set to unveil one of the summer's most anticipated films this week.
The British director spoke with Savannah Guthrie on TODAY on July 18 about his new movie, "Oppenheimer," as well as the ramifications of the first combined strike of the writers and actors' unions since 1960.
"It’s an important moment in the industry," he said. "The business models have been rewritten by the companies we work for, and it’s time to rewrite the deals. Hopefully, with everybody unified, that can happen quickly as possible."
The writers union has been on strike for three months and now has been joined by the actors in the SAG-AFTRA union. They are seeking better pay and working conditions now that streaming has dramatically altered the economic model of Hollywood. They also are pushing for contracts that include provisions on artificial intelligence.
Comcast, the corporation that owns TODAY’s parent company, NBCUniversal, is one of the entertainment companies represented by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers.
The actors' strike began in the middle of the U.K. premiere of "Oppenheimer," on July 13. It resulted in stars Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh and the rest of the cast walking out in the middle of the event to honor the strike.
"It was a bittersweet moment," Nolan said. "We were all there. We were very fortunate. We had the opportunity to somewhat celebrate the film and the actors were all there to support, but then when the time came had to down tools and go off in support of all of their fellow actors and then support the writers as well."
"Oppenheimer," which premieres July 21, tells the story of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the father of the atomic bomb.
"For me, Oppenheimer’s story is the most dramatic story I’ve ever encountered," Nolan said. "It’s as simple as that."
The film depicts the heart-stopping moment in 1945 when Oppenheimer and his team first exploded the bomb in a test code-named Trinity.
"When I learned the fact that leading up to that Trinity test ... he and his fellow scientists couldn't completely eliminate the possibility that in triggering that, they might destroy the entire world, but they went ahead and they pushed that button anyway," Nolan said. "And that for me, that's the most dramatic situation I've ever heard of."
Nolan also tried to limit the use of computer-generated imagery (CGI) in depicting the atomic explosions.
"We wanted imagery that has beauty but threat to it," he said. "That, I think, gives the imagery the bite it needs."